THOUGHTS AROUND A POLITICS OF IMPROVISED MUSIC
Chris Stover is a 2016-17 GIDEST Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor at The New School College of Performing Arts, where he teaches Music Theory, Composition, and World Music, and coordinates the Jazz Theory curriculum. His research focuses on improvisation and interaction, philosophies of time and process, and the folkloric and popular music of Cuba and Brazil. His work has been published in Media and Culture, The Open Space Magazine, Music Theory Online, Journal of Jazz Studies, Analytical Approaches to World Music, Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy, and elsewhere, including chapters in the edited volumes Improvisation and Music Education and Sounds of Resistance. In 2015 he spent four months in Brazil researching folkloric music as a Fulbright Teaching and Research Fellow, and he returned to Brazil in 2016 supported by a New School Faculty Research grant.
Of the paper for his GIDEST seminar, Chris writes: "How does (or can) music express politics? Improvised music, and especially jazz, has been tasked with exemplifying certain kinds of political/relational thinking—liberatory politics, new forms of democratic structures—this is a theme that animates a great of current work in critical improvisation studies. I'm curious about what a politics of improvised music actually is, how it could conceivably unfold, how it communicates with its histories and contexts, and perhaps how it could potentially express transformative political/relational thought beyond itself. Rather than focusing on music that is expressly political (like, for example, protest songs), I am interested in how relational structures and processes between human and sonic "agents" are put into play in order to determine or define the identity of some given musical performance. In this way I follow Jacques Rancière’s blurring of aesthetic and political expression, especially his assertion that both begin with a series of actions that redistribute the sensible, that erupt within known, reproductive structures in order to imagine new ways of doing and experiencing. Might this be a music-political moment?"